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This Week In Washington

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As we work to get our economy back on track, I'm encouraged by evidence of the progress we're making in many ways, both in changing policies and proving the success of American businesses and workers. This week brought good news from the office of the United States Trade Representative, Ron Kirk. The Chinese government has announced that they will end their unfair subsidy program for steel used in wind energy production. I had called on the USTR to fight this unfair and illegal process, and it seems our work has finally paid off. Our U.S. steel companies and workers will now have a fair shot at exporting some of our best in the world products to China, a trend we certainly need to see more of across all industries.

While this is certainly a victory, it is only one small step in our ongoing fight against the many instances of illegal Chinese trade manipulation. I urge the USTR to continue to remain vigilant in combating any and all unfair activity from any nation, especially China. We must remain committed to giving our manufacturers a fair shot, by better enforcing our trade laws that are currently on the books and ensuring that we do not further hinder opportunity by entering ourselves into another round of bad trade deals that set our domestic companies back. We all know that we can out-perform and out-produce China and the rest of the world, and our small businesses and manufacturers will help lead the way, if they're given a fair chance.

Here at home, I spent much of this district work period visiting with some manufacturers throughout our area--including many surrounding Fort Bragg--hearing their stories of weathering the economic hard times we've faced, as well as their thoughts on what they need to better find success in the future. They're seeing the playing field begin to be leveled, and we must keep the momentum going. The work done here in North Carolina is greater and more productive than any other part of our nation, and businesses are certainly beginning to catch on.

As many of you remember, just a few short years ago there was growing concern that we may lose the Goodyear Tire plant in Fayetteville--demand was low, and Goodyear was taking measures to cut losses where they could to remain profitable. I remember speaking with workers coping with the news and rumors of temporary shutdowns and staff reductions, unsure of what would come next. Thankfully, with help at the local and state level, as well as our wonderful community college programs, the company was able to stay in Fayetteville, saving thousands of jobs within the facility and countless more in our area.

I got to see firsthand the results of the success they've worked so hard to achieve this week, visiting with workers and management. As we toured the facility, it was clear why this location is now regarded as one of the top sites in North America. By adapting to the situation, changing the manufacturing mindset and bringing in new ways to measure throughput, they are learning the best ways to remain profitable, creating even more opportunity for their workers, and doing all of this in a safe and efficient manner. Folks at the plant told me how they now manufacture more than 30,000 tires a day, taking a once challenging manufacturing situation and turning it into a showcase example of success.

I also met with officials at the Partnership for Defense Innovation's Defense and Security Technology Accelerator, a small business incubator for local companies. In this cutting edge program, companies are put on a timeline and given the resources to better adapt, test, and manufacture their products for use in the defense industry. There's absolutely no better way to protect and promote our brave armed forces than by outfitting and equipping them in American-made equipment, with American-made technologies. This a perfect example of a way in which our community has helped to reaffirm our commitment to the military.

I also had the opportunity to tour and meet with workers and managers of the nearby DuPont facility. This company is responsible for creating some of the most unique and diverse products in the world. From agricultural and construction products, to elements that make solar panels more productive, the work done here will continue to grow and shape the needs of our changing world. Here is a company that can compete with any across the globe, making things and creating jobs right here in our area.

From Concord to Fayetteville and all points between, when I ask folks to tell me what their key to success is they all say the very same thing--it's the workers. The can-do attitude and perseverance of our hard working North Carolinian families is what has enabled us to endure for so long. Paired with the world-class education that can be found in our university and community college systems, we can help train, retrain and prepare people at all ages and from all walks of life how to continue on the tradition of domestic manufacturing. Whether it's young folks just finishing high school, or former textile workers like myself--we can give our workers the tools they need to adapt to changing industries and job markets--the tools to survive our 21st century economy.

These are just a handful of local examples of the ways in which North Carolina ingenuity and hard work are helping to set the example of the ever-changing face of success in manufacturing and business opportunity. The jobs created in any manufacturing facility directly create more jobs, in surrounding areas and in supporting industries--from product suppliers to local shops, stores and restaurants. We must continue to work to make sure we do all we can to put people back to work and to continue to show just how great our workers are and forever will be.

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